Nov. 27, 2008—Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. For those of us in the warmer climates, it means gloating about not having to slog through cold, snowy and overcast weather that plagues so much of the rest of the country.
Here in Charlotte, I give thanks each November for being able to open up my sunroof, wear a Windbreaker instead of a parka, and keep the gloves in the closet for another couple weeks.
This season, I have another thing to be thankful for: an incredible political season, one where new voters found connection with their American right to vote. It was a political season that embraced diversity and not just talked about it. Regardless of our political views, we've been blessed with a priceless piece of history—an African-American president not portrayed by James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman or even Richard Pryor. There is something satisfying in seeing the political arena buzz about a former sportscaster from Alaska, a POW vet from Arizona, a regular Joe from Scranton, a former first lady raised in the Midwest and, of course, that black guy from Hawaii.
For black conservatives like me, the election of Barack Obama amounts to a historical elephant in the room, a politically conflicted moment of immense proportions. As they eat their dinners this years, many Republicans may wonder bitterly about what might have been. But for all Americans, the significance of Obama's victory makes Thanksgiving this year—fom a history-making perspective—maybe the sweetest ever. Despite my own GOP leanings, Obama's win was a historic moment for the country.
But that "elephant" in the room will have company from two Thanksgiving staples: football and turkey. I'm sentimental about the Turkey Bowl games we played on muddy and slushy fields each Thanksgiving when I was growing up in Pittsburgh. We would get together to play in an annual Thanksgiving game to decide, among other things, who could say that they "still got it." For us, the Turkey Bowl was the first of two classics played annually (the other was the Ice Bowl, played on New Year's Eve). A month's worth of drafting teams, making trades, talking smack and speculating about the game's MVP culminated, finally, in game actually being played.
It was special because while most of us did not share the same surname, we were brothers. We grew up together. Some of us played organized football together as well, making the Turkey Bowl the ultimate chance to settle a year's worth of bragging rights. There was nothing quite like sticking the ball in a defender's face while running for a touchdown or making a blindside hit on the QB to win the Turkey Bowl before heading home to watch football TV and eat a lot of great food.
Ah, the memories.
This year, it's going to be a little different. There will be less football than there used to be for me. These old bones can't go on the football field like they used to, although I'm sure I'm not the only one in our crew saying that nowadays. (Don't get me wrong—I can still launch the ball 55 yards downfield if I need to.)
But there are things from the old Thanksgivings that remain and new things to cherish. There's still football on television. I am blessed with my wife's sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows on top). And, of course, there's still the Thanksgiving turkey.
Looking at the football schedule on TV, there is a strong risk of having two more turkeys for Thanksgiving Day. These won't be on the table, but rather on the tube. With the Tennessee Titans taking on the winless Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Dallas Cowboys, there is a good chance the games will be more sleep-aid than excitement come Thursday.
In some ways, though, that's OK—the second game is often background noise to the conversations or the post-dinner naps by those who fall victim to "Turkey-itis." For many of us this year, the most-discussed slices won't be of turkey breast or of the pie of our choice. It may well center on a slice of American history which we witnessed and for which we'll all be giving thanks this year.
Lenny McAllister is a political contributor for several outlets including "Fox News Rising" in Charlotte, N.C.